France and Japan are planning to get samples of the Martian moon and deliver them to Earth. The project to study the Martian satellites will be launched in 2024. The goal is Phobos (the largest and closest moon to us). Paris and Tokyo signed a preliminary agreement on Monday, and by the end of the year they will make a final decision.
“This is important, because for the first time we will be able to deliver samples of a space satellite, except for our Moon,” said Jean-Yves Le Gall from the National Space Research Center.
Phobos is slightly elongated and takes 27 km in diameter. Analysis of the composition would help to understand its origin. There are several theories. According to one of them, in front of us is an asteroid pulled by planetary gravity. Or is it residual material after a collision of Mars with another object. It will be easier to land the probe on the satellite, since it does not have to make its way through the Martian atmosphere. The partner was the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. They chose Phobos, as it is the immediate goal. It is important not to forget that the moon is approaching Mars by 2 meters every 100 years, so in 30-50 million years it can disappear.
In 2011, a Russian satellite was launched to Phobos, but due to a malfunction, it went down and crashed in the Pacific Ocean. In 2020, ExoMars will be one of the rovers who are destined to look for life on Mars.
Curiosity has been traveling the Red Planet for over 3 years now. Ilona Mask has a project for 10-15 years, which aims to manned trips. So in the near future, Mars can expect new guests.